Reading and writing are easier skills to learn than mathematics. In the lower grades, reading and spelling are concrete skills, and the FASD student may be a successful reader and speller. However, this may be masking difficulties and/or learning disabilities the FASD student has in language arts. Reading recognition and decoding are stronger for the FASD student than reading comprehension. As the students approach fourth and fifth grades, reading comprehension requires abstract thinking and problem solving: identifying the main idea of the story, making inferences, drawing conclusions, and recognizing the author’s point of view. These are weak reading skill areas for the FASD student. As the student gets older, the gap between the ability to decode and the ability to comprehend widens.
Reading difficulties may include:
- Weaker reading comprehension than decoding skills
- Making inferences
- Making predictions
- Drawing conclusions
- Understanding the author’s point of view
- Identifying the main idea
- Ability to answer “why” questions
- Following the sequence of a story
- Understanding idioms, metaphors, hyperbole, jokes, humor
Similarly, written language tasks are initially concrete and brief. Students in the lower grades may be asked to write a phrase or a sentence explaining an illustration. As the student approaches the upper grades in elementary school, new demands are required for written language. Students need to be able to write an essay or a response to a reading. Written language skills require an ability to organize thoughts in a sequential manner , stay on topic, and pay attention to the mechanics of writing. Organizing thoughts onto paper, putting ideas in a logical sequence, and paying attention to detail are very difficult for the FASD student.
Writing difficulties may include:
- Mechanics of writing (punctuation, capitalization)
- Organizing thoughts sequentially
- Word order